Bio & CV

An Ashoka, Rotary World Peace and TED Fellow alumn, I have for over fourteen years explored and advocated the use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to strengthen a just peace, reconciliation, human rights and democratic governance. I set up and curate the award winning Groundviews, Sri Lanka’s first citizen journalism website. An expert on new media literacy, web activism, digital security and online advocacy in Sri Lanka and internationally, I also work extensively on the advancement of information management during crises, both sudden-onset and protracted. I am a recognized expert and trainer on digital security for activists and journalists at risk, using technology and encryption to capture, disseminate and archive vital stories during the war in Sri Lanka and in austere human rights contexts.

Work/project history:

Special Advisor, ICT4Peace Foundation.  2006 to date

I was invited by the ICT4Peace Foundation in 2006 to help strengthen the Foundation’s capacity to meet its mission statement anchored to Paragraph 36 of the World Summit on Information Society Declaration, championing the use of ICTs for all aspects of peacebuilding and peacekeeping. I am also tasked with providing strategic guidance and input on the use of ICTs for crisis early warning, prevention, management and recovery, in addition to curating the Foundation’s website and social media presence on, inter alia, Facebook and Twitter. Since 2006 I have conducted system wide assessment of crisis information management at the UN, participated in organizational assessments around the use of technology platforms, helped high-level actors at the UN with strategic investments in technology by informing them, confidentially, of each proposal’s relative merits on a technical basis, organized annual retreats for UN stakeholders which includes substantive input, written position papers and future scenarios around technology and served as founding member on various boards dealing with big data, unarmed drones and research. I have also conducted workshops in multiple locations around the world, since 2010, around the use of new and social media for situational awareness, as well as dedicated workshops around digital security and cyber-security from activist, aid worker and independent journalist perspectives.

Senior Researcher, Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA). 2002 to date

I oversee all projects and programs of the Unit and focus on the development of civil society communications strategies leveraging traditional broadcast and print media, online digital media and mobiles. I also train key activists and NGOs on secure online and mobile communications strategies for pro-democracy advocacy and human rights protection. I have also dealt extensively with the rise, study and countering of violent extremism and hate speech online, focusing primarily on Burma/Myanmar and Sri Lanka. In 2002 I was a lead architect of information systems that back-stopped research and negotiations around a ceasefire agreement. Since 2006 I am recognized as a pioneer in citizen journalism and civic media, using technology to record accurately, impartially and responsibly human rights abuses and a democratic deficit. My work currently involves the strategic visioning of media development and media literacy initiatives, frequent debriefings with international press freedom and human rights advocacy groups as well as presentations in local and international fora on media freedom and the freedom of expression.

Download full CV here.

Email: sanjanah at gmail dot com